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Is There No Future for Climate Change Researchers Under Trump?

Nov 21, 2016 07:42 AM EST
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US President-elect Donald J. Trump has always been outspoken in expressing his skepticism when it comes to climate change, dubbing it as a hoax from China to cripple the economy of the country. A stark contrast from the former administration's call to address the burgeoning global environmental issue.

Just weeks after his unexpected win, Trump has made the climate research community anxious, thanks to his consistent rhetoric of intending to shift the focus and the funding away from government efforts that delve on climate change. These include NASA's earth sciences program, and his move to appoint notorious climate change denier Myron Ebell to head the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) transition team.

Admitting the fact that they rely heavily on the US federal government for funding and grants, most climate scientists in the country have mixed feelings. 

"It's nerve-wracking. I think this election eliminates the possibility of me working at agencies like NASA, NOAA, or EPA anytime soon," Anna Scott, a PhD student at Johns Hopkins focusing on climate and urban issues told Scientific American.

While uncertainty and discouragement are a common theme, there are also some who remain optimistic and even feel emboldened by the threatening future for climate change under the Trump administration.

Daniel Rothenberg, a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said, "People want to keep pushing forward. I haven't heard of any colleagues trying to shelve products or research. If anything, people are working harder before funding changes."

On the other hand, Yale faculty and chemistry professor Anna Marie Pyle, on the subject of possible decline in federal funding for the academic field, offered an encouraging statement and a probable solution, saying, "If the new administration combines tax cuts with increased investment in infrastructure and defense, the money will need to come from somewhere.

"To reduce the impact on research and education budgets, it is vital for students and faculty to participate actively in lobbying efforts with congressional leaders throughout the country. Promoting the benefits of science and engineering through public outreach is also very important," Pyle said in an article by the Yale Daily News.

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